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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Sep;41(3 Pt 2):S25-8.

Systemic sequential therapy of psoriasis: a new paradigm for improved therapeutic results.

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  • 1UCSF Psoriasis and Skin Treatment Center, 515 Spruce St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.


Sequential therapy is a treatment strategy involving the use of specific therapeutic agents in a deliberate sequence to optimize the therapeutic outcome. The rationale for this strategy in psoriasis is that it is a chronic disease requiring long-term maintenance therapy as well as quick relief of symptoms and that some therapies available for psoriasis are better suited for rapid clearance while others are more appropriate for long-term maintenance. Sequential therapy involves 3 main steps: (1) the clearing, or "quick-fix" phase; (2) the transitional phase; and (3) the maintenance phase. In the example of sequential systemic therapy described in this article, an acute exacerbation of psoriasis is brought under control promptly with the use of cyclosporine at maximum dermatologic dose (5 mg/kg daily). After 1 month, the transitional phase is initiated with the gradual introduction of acitretin as a maintenance agent. Once the maximum tolerated dose of acitretin has been established, cyclosporine is gradually tapered and acitretin is continued for long-term maintenance with phototherapy (UVB or PUVA) added for improved control if needed. The author proposes sequential therapy with cyclosporine and acitretin as a viable option for patients with psoriasis who require systemic therapy and desire an alternative to methotrexate.

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